It’s not often that an opposing player gets a hearty cheer from Prince Albert Raiders fans at the Art Hauser Centre.
That was the case last Friday night, however, as local forward Tanner Howe found the back of the net for the Regina Pats during a pre-season Western Hockey League contest.
“To hear those cheers was differently a nice feeling,” Howe said after Regina’s 8-6 setback.
“I knew there was a couple of fans supporting me tonight, but to hear them cheer after I scored that goal was pretty cool.”
Howe, who turns 16 years of age on Nov. 28, officially became a member of the Pats last March as the fourth round pick in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft signed a standard player agreement with the club.
He then suited up in eight games in the East Division Hub at the Brandt Centre, where he potted his first career goal on April 25 against the Brandon Wheat Kings and earned his first career assists on April 27 against the Winnipeg Ice.
“That time in the Hub helped me big time,” Howe said. “I got to play against bigger guys and learn from them, in addition to seeing just how quicker the game is in the WHL.
“You need to learn how to make quick plays right away, as there’s always going to be guys on you.”
That experience with the Pats also helped him in his off-season training as Howe is looking to earn a full-time spot on the roster for the 2021-22 campaign, which will start on Oct. 1 against the Raiders at the Art Hauser Centre.
“I worked a lot on explosiveness with my legs and other small things,” said Howe, who had 98 points in 62 games over two seasons with the Prince Albert Venice House Pirates Under-15 program and recorded four points in five games last year for the Prince Albert Mintos.
“I switched up things a little bit though compared to what I had done in the past, and a lot of that was due to the speed of the game at this level.”
While the Pats haven’t reached the post-season since they hosted the Memorial Cup in 2018 and last won a playoff series during their run to the league final in 2017, there is a substantial amount of buzz surrounding this year’s side, especially in The Queen City.
In addition to having Seattle Kraken second round pick Ryker Evans on the blueline and junior hockey phenom Connor Bedard up front, the Pats have also welcomed Columbus Blue Jackets defensive prospect Stanislav Svozil and former Lethbridge Hurricanes forward and first round pick Zack Stringer to their lineup.
“I think we’ll be a deep team for sure and I think we can make a run for it,” Howe said. “It’s important for us to be ready for every game and make sure that we are prepared. “That’s something that we’ve been working on here in the pre-season. We need to play hard and also be hard to play against.”